“Hard work always pays off…” Proverbs 14:23
“Put God in charge of your work, and what you’ve planned will take place.” Proverbs 16:3
“When I stand before God at the end of my life, I would hope that I would not have a single bit of talent left and could say, ‘I used everything you gave me.” >>> Erma Bombeck
“Make sure you leave it all out there on the court!” That’s a favorite saying of every coach, probably who ever lived. The sentiment is fairly simple, the coach wants every ounce of energy that can be squeezed from your body in order to have a better chance to win. As a player, I always found it easy to promise the coach what he wanted. I would burst out of the huddle and onto the court, adrenaline pumping and feet moving quickly. My first couple of plays in basketball or games in tennis would be awesome.
The problem came when I came against some real opposition. Opposition could mean many things. For example, some times I stopped giving my full effort because I began to feel a bit winded. Sometimes I didn’t leave it all on the court because I had a bad day and didn’t feel like it. Sometimes I didn’t give it my all because I was afraid that if I did, I would still lose. And sometimes I didn’t reach for that extra energy because I was bored.
If only I could have sustained that motivation, that inspiration, that energy that was given to me by a moving pre-game speech. If only I could bottle the energy of the team cheer, or the school fight song being played to introduce the lineup. If I could get someone to whisper that motivation in my ear throughout a whole match, I’d never lose the bounce in my step!
You see, motivation fades. Motivation IS NOT what really makes people leave it all on the court. Discipline is. Discipline is what allows you to use all your talents, all of your energy. If you want to walk off the court having given your best each match, then you have to make yourself do the extra set in the weight room. You have to force your legs to finish the mile as fast as they go. You have to run the extra sprint at the best of your ability. You have to condition your body to be pushed in order to make it respond.
Proverbs 22:6 says “Bring a child up in the way of the Lord, and when he is old he will not depart from it.” What this is really talking about is disciplining children to do what the Lord sees as right. This is what we need to do to ourselves as well, discipline our minds continually, our bodies constantly, in the things of the Lord and the things that we want them to do. Then, when we are stressed, tired, or bored we will still have the strength of character to stand and give our best.
Human nature is to fall into patterns. The challenge for you this season, CHANGE YOUR PATTERNS. Develop self-control and discipline, and I am challenging you in two areas. First, bring your effort and desire into a disciplined state, so you can give everything on court. Second, develop self control of your thoughts to become at all times Godly, including off court. In this way, you will constantly be thinking of how you can “Use everything that God gave you.”